One of our buying agents, Jenny Prager, is a specialist in finding and renovating properties for buyers due to her vast experience in doing just this herself. For example, Jenny recently finished building her dream eco home in Bosham near Chichester, having knocked down a bungalow which was previously on the plot – increasing the value tremendously. The Daily Telegraph very kindly splashed across their property pages at the weekend how she did it following a really fun photo shoot. The piece really is a wonderful article to read if you love property as much as we do, so here’s a link to have a peek.

Meanwhile, should you like the sound of building your own dream home from scratch, Jenny may just be the lady you need to help you find the ideal spot. Do get in touch for a no obligation chat – she’d be delighted to hear from you. Do mention you saw her in the Daily Telegraph too! jp@propertyacquisitions.co.uk.

 

Jenny Prager, who bought a bungalow in Sussex, demolished it and built a new house

Inside Jenny Prager's house

The swimming pool, built with the new housePhoto captions: Daily Telegraph / Andrew Crowley

 

 

 

It is no secret that West Sussex remains as one of the top areas on the market, as buyers seek out larger homes, more outdoor space for a lovely lifestyle. With limited good quality country homes for sale either on or off market, this strong demand has meant record prices are often being achieved, with little room for negotiation. For many sellers it has created a bit of a dilemma: Yes, they may have sold their house for a great price, but they cant find somewhere else to purchase. As such, I am frequently seeing delayed completions at the moment.

The completion date is the day a buyer legally pays the remainder of the purchase price to the seller, which enables them to collect the keys and move in. This usually happens about 28 days after you have exchanged contracts and so a seller has to vacate their home within that time frame. With a delayed completion, this period can be extended – which can benefit both the buyer and the seller if managed properly.

These long stop completions are happening because sellers are feeling worried about how long it may take them to find another house. After all, theyre up against tough competition. Little properties are available; theres anything upwards of at least five-seven serious buyers per house, and gazumping is rife. All too often I hear stories about people who have had their offer agreed, only to find out days later that the seller has cheekily accepted a higher price from somebody else, causing the whole chain to fall apart. Or that the competition is so fierce that people are throwing silly money at sellers in order to secure the sale, pushing others out of the equation immediately. Many of the prime country houses are selling off market as well, so not everybody is aware of them – not unless theyre using a buying agent. Theres also sentimental reasons for sellers feeling anxious, particularly with older ones who are leaving behind a family home they have most likely lived in for a couple of decades if not more.

Therefore for sellers, having the time to find something else combined with the assurance that their home has already sold, puts them in good stead as a buyer – which is very appealing. So much so that often sellers will accept a lower price for their home if they can find a buyer willing to wait a bit until they complete (assuming the buyer demonstrates other good qualities as well, i.e. they have everything in place already to exchange quickly.)

For buyers, there are many benefits too. Firstly, its an effective negotiating tool for securing their dream country home for a lower price. It also allows time to seek planning permission, architects and builders for any alterations they plan to make. This is especially true now when Covid-19 has caused huge delays with planners, whilst builders are so busy with business there are long waiting times to book them in. For anybody moving from overseas, a delayed completion is ideal should they wish to secure the house via exchange and then wait until they are back in the UK to complete. Meanwhile a buyer has more time to secure the funds from the sale of their own home in order to complete the purchase. It can of course mean that a buyer has to move into rental accommodation temporarily should their purchaser wish to move in sooner, but Im finding that if they have found the right house, many are prepared to do that. This is definitely a contributor to how hot the rental market is round here at the moment.

For example, a recent client of mine who exchanged this month in the Petworth area has agreed a completion date for early 2022 because the vendors wanted time to find something perfect to buy. By being flexible, this meant their lower offer was accepted when compared to other bidders.

 

For more information about buying and selling this way, contact Jennie Hancock on jh@propertyacquisitions.co.uk. 

 

Annexes are highly sought after at the moment, so much so that they can potentially add 10% to the value of a property. Our Director, Jennie Hancock, was asked by Sunday Times Home to provide a quote about their appeal and why, which was published today.

Jennie said:

“As you need to have suitable outside space of at least an acre for an annexe, you’re looking at houses priced around £1million plus in West Sussex. These tend to be in rural locations, although I have heard stories about locals in the city of Chichester itself who have converted their garages into an Air B&B. Interestingly, post Covid-19, buyers are looking out for redundant outbuildings they can turn into annexes themselves, rather than purchasing a house with one already there. This is because they recognise the added value they can bring to their home by doing it this way. An annexe that has been designed as a facility or somewhere to practice a hobby can add up to 10% onto the value. I know quite a few people who have built large working spaces outside as a result of the pandemic for example, but annexes are also popular now for parents to live in, as yoga/pilates studios, state of the art gyms or as a way of having additional accommodation you can rent out. The lettings market in Chichester is phenomenal, especially around the time of Goodwood events such as Festival of Speed and Glorious Goodwood in July, and Revival in September. One lady I know has transformed her shed into an Air B&B for this very reason, but West Sussex is also very popular for those needing accommodation for weddings or for short breaks away by the coast.”

 

Read the full Sunday Times piece here.

Lock up and leave properties are back in fashion for a variety of buyers as we make our way out of lockdown restrictions.

Factors such as being able to travel abroad again, excellent rental opportunities, Londoners seeking second homes and people wanting to visit family more are fuelling the trend, with all seeking somewhere that offers good security and little maintenance whilst away.

For the over 60’s for example, there has been a huge shift towards a more active lifestyle that embraces ease and convenience. For those looking to travel abroad for golfing holidays, cruises and bucket list adventures that can last longer than one to two weeks, lock up and leave homes are ideal. Whilst others who have been isolated from their families over the last year desperately want to see them more – particularly if they live elsewhere in the country. Popular locations for such buyers are those with communities and neighbours around in a village, town or estate, offering added security. Homes with modern facilities are also preferred over those brimming with character, as they’re well insulated, easily cared for and tend to have some kind of internal security measures in place. Apartments at the King Edward VII Estate in Midhurst are a great example. Nestled within acres of woodland, all residents benefit from high-spec security and a management service – as well as glorious gardens and grounds, a swimming pool and a gym they can enjoy without having to do anything to look after them.

Meanwhile, due to some of the highest levels of demand I have seen in my entire property career, Londoners are struggling to find good country houses in West Sussex around the £2million-£3million level to relocate to at the moment. Combined with the removal of the £500,000 stamp duty threshold, some have decided to postpone their ‘post Covid move out plans’ and find a temporary lock up and leave weekend retreat instead. Budgets are lower at around £800,000-£2million, where they’re seeking a smaller home with an easily maintained garden. Some may even hire a gardener or a housekeeper to keep on top of things whilst they’re not there. I have a few clients doing this at the moment, with anywhere that offers a sense of escapism and peace and quiet of interest. This could be the waterside villages of Chichester as well as rural locations on the outskirts of the city and those dotted around Midhurst and Petworth. The added benefit of purchasing this way as well is that it does allow people to see what the area is like before committing to living there permanently.

People are also recognising the income potential when owning a lock up and leave property. Homes in West Sussex can benefit greatly from sites such as Air B&B whether it’s for a wedding, Christmas holidays or for events such as Festival of Speed and Glorious Goodwood. If you’re somebody who plans to be abroad for the whole of the summer or dream of cruising the Caribbean for two months over Christmas and New year, your home can also make a lucrative income whilst you’re away. If the property is easy to maintain, it’s relatively hassle free, and any costs associated with employing a cleaner and a gardener to keep on top of things in between lets should be covered nicely.

So there are many benefits to owning a lock up and leave property – they truly can be an investment not to be missed. If you need help in your search then please do get in touch with myself, Jennie Hancock, via e-mail (jh@propertyacquisitions.co.uk), phone (+44 7776452128), or LinkedIn.

Picture Credit: Alamy/The Times

 

Having been born and bred in Chichester, our Director, Jennie Hancock, knows the local area like the back of her hand. With over 30 years’ experience of working here too, she also boasts impressive knowledge and acumen of the country house market. Therefore, when The Times Bricks & Mortar asked us for comment on Chichester’s property market, we jumped at the chance to be interviewed and were delighted to see Jennie’s name quoted throughout.

Read the full article here (paywall).

The Daily Telegraph asked our Director, Jennie Hancock, for comment about increased demand for buying agents in West Sussex, and the appeal of purchasing a country house off-market. We are delighted to see that some of her comments have been included, demonstrating Jennie’s expertise in the local property market. Here is the Q&A with the journalist:

 

Have you seen demand for your services increase in the past year?

I have noticed a surge in global traffic on my website over the last twelve months – up 1,368%. The top three nationalities are the UK (+1,471%), US (+60%) and China (+440%), with other top ten long-haul visitors including Singapore, Japan, India and Australia. Over 60% of enquiries I have received since the pandemic began are now from London buyers, with rural and waterside villages once sought after fifteen years ago high on the agenda once more, as the need to live close to work or a train station is replaced with the desire for amenities such as a good pub, village shop and for the coastal locations, access to the water. My local town clients are also seeking a more rural life to enjoy their retirement.

 

Why?

The pandemic has without a doubt reinforced the joys of living in a village. People are seeking village life offering beauty, peace, clean air, simplicity, charm, natural surroundings and close local communities to name a few. When we’ve been trapped in our homes, having access to stunning surroundings and beautiful walks around fields, woodlands and rivers has been a saving grace. It’s a completely different experience to living in a city or busy town. They may be a five-to-ten-minute drive further away from a main line railway station, but as more people are choosing to work from home now or only wish to travel into London once a week, they are seeking something slightly more rural. Gone are the days of being on a train at 6am and struggling home for 8pm. Instead, wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle have shot to the top of people’s priorities and requirements. More and more people are now choosing this rural way of life over urban, seeking a more relaxed and gentle pace that makes life far more enjoyable.

Many of my buyers are choosing the awe-inspiring hidden village gems over towns, where you literally step back in time. For example East Dean, Chilgrove, West Stoke and Church Norton. Venturing out between Midhurst and Petworth, you will find some more truly stunning English villages. Still within the South Downs National Park, these in particular have proved more popular with my clients over the last twelve months than they have in fifteen years! For example, Graffham, Lodsworth, Lurgashall and Lickfold.

The most sought after houses are those offering swimming pools, tennis courts, water access, water views, separate outbuildings for home office space, yoga studios or for Air B&B purposes, a separate boot room and utility room due to pets and village amenities such as a good pub, shop, village green, cricket club, croquet club and even an annual fete/dog show!

Prices are rising as a result, especially in the golden villages, which offer a good pub, shop, have a village fete and cricket green and so on, almost stepping back in time. I believe this momentum will continue throughout 2021 and into 2022, and over the long-term country houses in this area should continue to appreciate with their prices remaining high.

 

What is the minimum clients need to spend on property?

For West Sussex, most of my clients are spending between £1million-£7million anywhere from a small family home or weekend pad to large country houses with reasonable acreage and all the bells and whistles.

 

Any examples of where you have really added value in the past year?

I have an Oxfordshire client who is in the process of purchasing a house off market in the South Downs National Park just south of Petworth. They have made a very good offer in cash, and consequently the seller was encouraged by the representing professional to move out of the house into rented accommodation. This they did, in order to secure the sale. I found this property through my estate agency contacts.

I took a client to a house in the South Downs National Park which was for sale at a guide of approximately £1.5million. It had numerous viewings over a weekend and although my client was the first to offer, the offers from other buyers ended up being 20% over the asking price. I therefore advised my client to walk away so that they didn’t over pay. Not long afterwards, I found them another property off market that they are delighted with which was found through my estate agency contacts.

 

Click here to read the full article (paywall). For more details about how Property Acquisitions can help you with your property search in West Sussex, contact Jennie Hancock via e-mail (jh@propertyacquisitions.co.uk), phone (+44 7776452128), or LinkedIn.

The demand for larger homes and more outdoor space across every county in England is showing no signs of slowing down, with three-bed houses the most desirable and one-bed flats the least. Property Reporter has kindly quoted our Director, Jennie Hancock, about buyer demand in West Sussex, as the county ranks joint third in the market analysis from house selling weather forecast, PropCast.

You can read the full article in Property Reporter here.

The world’s greatest flower show may have been pushed back to September due to the pandemic, but green fingered horticulturists are fully embracing their gardens this summer – in fact, they have been for the last fourteen months!

Having been cooped up at home for over a year this is of no surprise – for those lucky to have outdoor space that is. People who have been living in apartments haven’t had quite the same luxury – not unless they have a ground floor flat or live somewhere with communal gardens to enjoy.

This is very noticeable with the enquiries I have received from both local and London property buyers. Homes with pretty gardens have always been very popular, but outdoor space has never been quite so important like it is now. It’s not just about having a large freshly mowed lawn anymore.  Other aspects are now expected, many of which feel like we’re taking a step back in time to how gardens used to be.

What do country house hunters ask for in their gardens now?

  • Colourful flowers and shrubs for every season
  • Vegetable / kitchen garden
  • Walled garden
  • Summer house to relax and unwind in, offering a sense of escapism
  • Stone bridge
  • Green house
  • Treehouse
  • Shaded areas with mature trees
  • Wild meadows
  • Glorious communal gardens for apartment owners – this is especially true today, particularly from downsizers. They are either looking for a smaller village house or homes within grand country houses which boast spectacular gardens and grounds they can enjoy. The King Edward VII Estate in Midhurst is a classic example of this, where you can find a one/two bed-apartment for less than £500,000.

 

With this list, I am reminded of one of my favourite proverbs…. “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.” I feel today’s country house buyer is inheriting a part of the history of a garden, along with the love and devotion given to it, because the previous owners would have spent a lot of time designing the grounds and spending money to care for them. Of course, people are also looking for all the mod cons such as patios for al fresco dining, swimming pools, tennis courts and so on as a result of Covid-19, but the generation of 2020/2021 are inheriting these glorious established gardens from their parents or grandparents which we haven’t seen for sale for decades, and are now selling them.

For example, I recently acquired an attractive period house in Harting off-market. Nestled within a tranquil village setting which has no passing traffic – a rarity in today’s world – the house had a glorious well-established garden that offered seclusion and amazing views – exactly what my client was looking for. They were the only buyers to view the house and consequently I was able to secure it for them.

Last year in Slindon, I found a stunning village home for a client with land, beautiful gardens and grounds that had been well maintained by the previous owner for many years. The house benefitted from colour and variety in the flowers and shrubs, mature trees to sit under in the shade plus a kitchen garden and walled garden. There was also a spectacular magnolia tree, an archway which led to an apple and pear orchard and a pergola covered in climbing roses and honeysuckle. These were key selling points for my client. The property sold off market where again, they were the only buyer.

Meanwhile in West Wittering, I showed a client a stunning house which had a wild meadow, landscaped gardens, mature shrubs and trees with views over farmland which the buyers fell in love with immediately. They made an offer the next day.

To stand a chance of owning such a garden as above, you need a budget of at least £1million in West Sussex and be able to act quickly. Homes with this type of offering are being snapped up, often with multiple bidding wars from competitive purchasers if they’re on the open market. Having said that, many of these transactions are happening off market where the competition is less intense as most buyers don’t know they’re for sale unless they’re using a buying agent. This is one of the many reasons house purchasers ask me for help with their search because I am aware of what is being sold discreetly. Often, my clients will be the only buyer looking at the property as a result.

 

Find Out More

For any questions about finding your dream home with a glorious garden, please do get in touch with myself, Jennie Hancock, via e-mail (jh@propertyacquisitions.co.uk), phone (+44 7776452128), or LinkedIn.

Covid-19 continues to fuel demand for larger homes and more outdoor space in West Sussex according to recent research by PropCast, with 80% of houses for sale under offer or subject to contract, compared to 57% for flats.

 

The findings form part of a nationwide report, where the house selling weather forecast analysed buyer demand across England to see what percentage of houses and flats for sale were being snapped up, and how that differed between the number of bedrooms. Across England, on average 73% of houses for sale are under offer or subject to contract – substantially higher than the figure for flats (43%). Three-bedroom houses are in most demand at 76%, followed by two-beds (75%), four plus-beds (69%) and one-beds (62%). Meanwhile, one-bedroom flats are the lowest in demand at 44% – most likely due to not having a garden and with limited space indoors – along with three-bedroom flats. Flats with two-bedrooms are sought after the most (50%), followed by four-plus beds (39%).

 

I absolutely agree with these findings at Property Acquisitions. Houses will always be the most obvious choice for families relocating out of London to West Sussex, but what has been interesting to see is a shift in what my downsizer clients are looking for. Previously, a two-three bed apartment within the city/ on the outskirts would have been at the top of their wish lists but now they want to tick the same boxes a post-Covid family buyer wants. Ie larger homes, gardens, luxurious kitchens and bathrooms, potential for office space and outdoor entertaining options. The enquiries I have received over the last year from those looking to downsize are either centred around a village cottage or a substantially sized flat within a country house which boasts impressive landscaped grounds and wrap around balconies or terraces. They want somewhere they can really enjoy being at home with friends and family given they’ve spent so much time cooped up on their own at home over the last year.

 

Gavin Brazg, Founder of PropCast provides some good tips for those who are trying to sell their flat in the current market… “Over the last year, we can see buyer demand has grown to record high levels across West Sussex, and we don’t expect these elevated levels of buyer demand to peter out anytime soon. However, it’s clear to see that if you’re trying to sell a flat at the moment with minimal to no outdoor space, it is going to be harder to find a buyer quickly. My advice would be to look at the situation as if you are in a buyers’ market, which is a time where you have to change your selling strategy in order to achieve the best possible price and fast. The best way to strengthen your position is to price conservatively from the start and choose a local, trusted estate agent who truly knows the market and how best to position your home within it.”

 

The overall property market in West Sussex

Overall, according to PropCast, buyer demand in West Sussex has continued to grow since the pandemic began, with buyer demand up 95% – indicating a very hot sellers’ market. This is especially true in areas which offer a rural lifestyle and large family homes. The popular coastal postcode districts in and around Chichester – where Property Acquisitions source properties for clients – have experienced a staggering increase. For example, PO18 (to include Bosham) has seen an 89% rise in property sales, whilst demand has risen 86% in PO20 (to include Itchenor and West Wittering). Meanwhile rural villages that sit between Midhurst and Petworth (GU28), such as Lodsworth, Graffham and Lurgashall, have seen a growth of 66% – somewhere I am very active at the moment with my clients.

 

I am experiencing one of the busiest years I have ever encountered in the villages in and around Chichester, Midhurst and Petworth, especially in the Lodsworth, Graffham and Selham areas where I have had more interest here in the last twelve months than I have in fifteen years! Buyers have been making offers left right and centre during the pandemic, with almost all of these deals happening off-market, within days. Without a doubt, COVID-19 has changed people’s mindsets; not just for now but for the long-term too. They’re re-evaluating what they want in life, and where they want to be. The relaxed, rural setting that provides a variety of lifestyle-enhancing options. Prices are rising as a result, especially in the golden villages, which offer a good pub, shop, have a village fete and cricket green and so on, almost stepping back in time. I believe this momentum will continue throughout 2021 and into 2022, and over the long-term country houses in this area should continue to appreciate with their prices remaining high.

 

Find out more

For any questions about finding your dream home (whether that’s a house or apartment) in and around any of these locations, please do get in touch with myself, Jennie Hancock, via e-mail (jh@propertyacquisitions.co.uk), phone (+44 7776452128), or LinkedIn.

Our Director, Jennie Hancock was quoted in the Financial Times over the weekend about the West Sussex property market. Opening up the article, Jennie talks about how she has seen more demand in the Lodsworth, Graffham, Selham area in the last twelve months than she has in fifteen years, with buyers asking for a village shop they can walk or cycle to, a church, croquet and local dog shows. She also talks about how most of her country house purchases for clients are done off-market.

Read the full piece here. (Paywall)

 

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